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Let’s Talk…Infant Massage

September 14, 2011

I am pleased to introduce this week’s guest blogger Laurie Jeffries, head teacher in the infant/toddler classroom at Iowa State University Child Development Laboratory School and a certified infant massage therapist.  Malisa

Touch is the very first sense to appear in utero and is central to the rest of our senses. It is the sense which is most developed at birth and is our very first form of communication. All of our other senses depend upon touch for valuable sensory information. “The infant’s need for body contact is compelling. If that need is not adequately satisfied, even though all other needs are adequately met, he or she will suffer” Dr. Ashley Montagu, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin

What are the benefits of Infant Massage?

•       Deepens Bonding: The hormone Oxytocin is released in both giver and infant. This hormone is called the feel good hormone. Massage decreases levels of cortisol (stress hormone).

•       Improves Communication: Massage enhances ability to read cues the baby is sending.

•       Contributes to development: Babies who are touched often (massaged) gain weight better, digest food better, absorb nutrients better, and massage helps with elimination

•       Helps Baby to Sleep Better: Massage allows baby to relax, sleep deeper, and for longer periods of time. And let’s be honest most parents could use the rest themselves!

One stroke that I personally like is called Gentle Glide. Always use some type of cold-compressed oil. Lotions have a chilling affect on the baby’s skin. You can do this with arms or legs. With your non-dominant hand clasp the baby’s ankle. With oil on your dominant hand start at the upper thigh and just slide your hand down the babies leg. You can rotate hands if you like or just use one hand.

A very calming stroke that will often aid in a baby falling asleep is clasping the baby’s head with your hands on each side of his or her face. Using your thumbs, gently glide them starting above the bridge of the nose out towards the temples. Then pick up your thumbs and continue until the baby is asleep or is signally that he or she is done with this stroke.

I recommend taking a class to learn more about infant massage. There are books available that will also help you learn some different strokes. Most importantly make this a bonding and enjoyable time with the infant in your care.

Let us hear from you! How are you using the power of touch in your program with young children?

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader is a human sciences specialist that misses the daily hugs and high-fives from little people.

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